Skip to main content

Creative Post-Processing for Portraiture

Lesson 3 of 7

Add Streams of Light

Jackie Jean Acosta

Creative Post-Processing for Portraiture

Jackie Jean Acosta

staff favorite

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

3. Add Streams of Light

Lesson Info

Add Streams of Light

This one, again, it's a good portrait. I see things and I'm like, "Oh, it just needs a little bit more." So I just kind of spice it up a little bit. So we're going to add some streams of light. So we're gonna go down to our layers, you wanna make sure that your layers window's open. So you can click F7 shortcut or go to window and layers. So, we're gonna make sure that that's open and we're gonna go down to this little blank document on the bottom of that layers window and select create a new layer. And with that I'm gonna change my foreground color and set it to white, maybe a little bit off-white right there. Select okay and I'm gonna grab my paintbrush. I'm gonna bring that hardness up to about 85% and my size to about 150, I'm gonna actually have a whole bunch of ranging sizes. Oh and I want to make sure that my opacity is up at 100%. As you can see there, I'm just creating a little bit of dots like beautiful light right there, right? And I like to do different sizes too, so I'm ju...

st gonna... Create a lot of different, so I've got some hard ones, and some light ones, I reduced the hardness on the brush again so, kinda going all over the place with this. Alright there we go, beautiful light. Just kidding, we keep going. Alright so now I'm gonna go to filter, blur, and were going to go to motion blur. Alright, so you can change the angle of the motion blur where you want it to go, so I'm gonna increase that distance as you can see. You wanna make sure that you're doing it pretty high up as far as the distance, so I've got it at 125O right now, again you can change the angle, obviously you don't wanna do it this way because that doesn't look like light's coming in that way. So you wanna make sure, again, with everything you wanna make sure that the light always matches. So, bringing that down, changing that angle and make sure that it's coming right down on her face and click okay, whoops. I did that and it changed it, hold on. I just showed you what not to do. Alright. And, okay now it's right on her, so I'll click okay. Okay so, You can leave it like this but it looks pretty fake, you know? (laughs) We're like oh that's some great fake lights there, Jackie. Alright, so we wanna make sure to blur that out and blend it in. All about blending, all about making it look as natural as possible. So, you go in, you blur that light, then you've kinda got more of that natural light streaming. It's not overpowering, you don't wanna overpower adding any effects in an image, so. Click okay, just got that nice little ray of light there. Now, if this was more of the tone of like, there was actual sunshine, an image wasn't as cool and it was warmer, you could change the light to yellow, orange, and doing that with the paintbrush as well. Now this one is edited, so I'm just gonna add the light into it. I don't remember what he was looking at but, he might've saw a bird there or somethin'. Actually, I probably told him to look up, I always like telling kids 'cause they just look up with wonder, you know. Alright, so this one, we're gonna do again, create that new blank layer. And with this one I'm gonna change the color of the light, so I'm gonna actually use my eye dropper tool to make sure that it matches. So I'm gonna grab one of the lighter colors of yellow right there, make sure that that matches, click okay, and again, kind of all over the place there. Got some big ones, little ones, and that way it really blends together, I mean it's more realistic rather than having just all these big ole fat rays or these really tiny little ones. So now we're gonna go, instead of using the motion blur like we did last time, we're gonna go to blur and radial blur, and we're gonna select the blur method of zoom. And you can change the point of where you're starting it, so I'm gonna move this all the way up to the top and increase the amount all the way to 100% and click okay. Alright so you can kind of see, it looks pretty cool but you can still see little spots where you're like, well that's not even coming from a light source. So you wanna do this a couple times, rather than starting over you just go to filter, radial blur, just hit that a couple more times. There we go, so now we've got this nice little ambiance light right there, before and after. Which, I actually like that one, but if you wanted to lower it a little bit, adding that blur where you kind of have that subtle light coming rather than that harsh light coming in. Could you explain a little bit of the brush again, when to do it like a low hardness or high? Oh, absolutely. Okay so I'm gonna go back to the other image 'cause I think I'm still in it. So in the softness and the hardness of the brush? Yeah. Okay, so I can, lemme show you an example. So I am go ahead and create a new document, and we are gonna select that brush and we are gonna have it at 100% on the hardness. And you can kind of see, right there, I'm gonna, again, change the sizes like I did with the other one. And were gonna go to filter, blur, radial blur right there, make sure it's set to zoom, 100%, click okay. And we've got it right there. So, it's just a little bit more pronounced as far as the rays are gonna be a little bit sharper. And then if I do the soft ones, which, oh lemme do another layer just because I had added that blur. And you'll reduce the hardness to 0% with this one. So you're still getting those rays of light, but it just kinda changes a little bit as far as how those streams are comin' through. Alright, blur, radial blur again, got the zoom at 100%, click okay, and bam, it's a little bit softer. So that's the difference right here, so lemme show ya. You can see that one's the hardness right there at 100%, and a little bit softer.

Class Description

Post-processing offers a ton of ways for you to dramatically change, improve, and stylize your portraits. Unfortunately, most of us get into a post-processing rut, using the same tired techniques over and over again. Professional portrait photographer Jackie Jean Acosta will help you revitalize your image editing by demonstrating some of her most impressive tricks and inspiring ideas.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Use various techniques to enhance the mood and create drama.
  • Add sun flare, haze, and streams of light to your images.
  • Extract your subject from your background.

Join Jackie for this exciting journey through creative post-processing and learn to have more fun and be more experimental with the process of refining your images.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018



This class was amazing. I loved it. I just thought she went a bit fast and sometimes didn’t say where she found the room she was using. If you have distractions around you like kids, this is something you will want to watch more than once. Or maybe clear the distractions before watching. I feel I learned a lot and it will help me bring my picture editing to the next level.


This was an excellent class. I really wanted some simple photoshop techniques to add to my portrait work and this was perfect. I learned more about masking, layers, creating extra light and balancing my images. Jackie has a great simple lesson on composite photography at the end for a beginner. If you are looking for easy and immediately applicable upgrades to your portraiture work, this is it.

Dre' Black

Shocking I'm impressed with her simple yet effective techniques. It almost makes me wonder how I didn't know all this single how simple it is, but she does a great job at teaching it and wrapping it up in a nice package.